New Japan Pro Wrestling
Best of the Super Juniors 2016
Finals – June 7th, 2016
Sendai Sun Plaza Hall
The 2016 Best of the Super Juniors Tournament ends with the stop in Miyagi, after featuring a match of significant consequence – the 23 year old NJPW new comer, Will Ospreay, takes on the veteran, Ryusuke Taguchi, for the tournament championship.
In addition to the climax of the Junior tournament, this event also acts as the final build up to NJPW Dominion in two weeks. Michael Elgin continues his push to challenge Kenny Omega for the Intercontinental Championship, while the continuing Los Ingobernables vs CHAOS war primes us for Okada’s challenge of Naito’s championship at Dominion. It’s a big show!
Jay White def. David Finlay
This was the 9th one on one match of this Young Lion series, with White leading the series at 7-1. These two wasted no time in this sub-seven minute match and turned this into an absolute sprint. Finlay was riding the momentum of the rare Young Lion victory against a veteran with his win over Gedo earlier in the tournament. You could see a fiery desperation in the eyes of Finlay as he was finally going to take it to his rival, White. Unfortunately for Finlay, White was still just a step ahead of him and was able to roll Finlay up for the quick win. Finlay reluctantly shook White’s hand after the match was over. This could be the final one on one match between these two prior to their excursions. White has already been pegged for a trip to Ring of Honor, while Finlay’s journey is still up in the air. This pair along with Sho Tanaka and Yohei Komatsu have put together one of the most memorable classes of Young Lions that NJPW has ever seen and their respective careers with forever be linked together. It will be interesting to see where these two go from here as White has already stated his desire to return to NJPW as a heavyweight. ***1/4
— John Stevens (@DK1105) June 7, 2016
Yujiro Takahashi & Chase Owens def. Yoshitatsu & Captain New Japan
This was two pairings of bottom tier wrestlers on the NJPW totem pole. Takahashi who has taken the ultimate backseat of all back seats in the pecking order of the NJPW roster paired with the bottom rung Bullet Club member against two guys doing terrible Triple H impressions. With that said, Owens worked his tail off to make this a watchable match. It marked the only time on this tour that Owens carried a match as opposed to being an above average addition to a match. The crowd wasn’t into anything here except for when Captain New Japan had some nearfall pin attempts, which seemed more plausible than usual when he was pinning Mr. Backseater Takahashi and received some big pops with the 2 count kick outs. In the end, Takahashi was finally able to pick up the win after hitting CNJ with the Miami Shine. **
Katsuyori Shibata & Juice Robinson def. Yuji Nagata & Manabu Nakanishi
Shibata and Nagata kicked off this match with a fiery exchange of strikes to continue the Shibata vs. Third Generation feud. The crowd in Sendai was red hot for Shibata from the opening bell telling the story that Shibata is earning the respect of the NJPW faithful fans while still disrespecting Nagata and tradition. Unfortunately this opening exchange transitioned into Robinson and Nakanishi trading forearms, which had no juice whatsoever (pun unintended). To his credit, Nakanishi did hit a Flying Crossbody on Robinson which received decent pop. After sidelining Nagata with a kick to the face off the apron Shibata managed to put Nakanishi away with the Sleeper Hold/Penalty Kick combo. ***¼
Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish def. Tomohiro Ishii & Rocky Romero & Beretta
There was more story to the background of this match than the match itself. Fish defeated Ishii at Ring of Honor’s Global Wars PPV to win the ROH TV title and O’Reilly was coming off the disappointing defeat to Romero who played spoiler to O’Reilly’s BOSJ dreams the day before. O’Reilly then said in a post-match interview that he doesn’t intend to enter the 2017 edition of the BOSJ, and instead intends to bulk up and enter into the heavyweight division of NJPW.
This match included some comedy spots by Rocky Romero who was hitting Tenzan with Mongolian Chops that Corino/Kelly were called Cuban chops. Ishii was then acting as the Quarterback of the CHAOS trio here by directing Roppongi Vice in a barrage of attacks on Fish which created an interesting dynamic for Ishii who is normally the background/bodyguard type of player in the CHAOS fold. O’Reilly got his revenge on Romero for his loss yesterday and was able to put him away with Chasing the Dragon. ***
KUSHIDA & Ricochet & Matt Sydal def. Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask IV & Volador Jr.
We got a neat trios match here that included the IWGP Junior Champion Super Team where the IWGP Jr. champion, KUSHIDA, teamed with the IWGP Junior. Tag champions, Ricochet and Sydal.This was as super hot showcase of six BOSJ entrants and the crowd was popping for everything. Ricochet and Volador Jr. had an incredible exchange of business exposing spots that are sure to kill professional wrestling despite sending the live crowd into a frenzy. Liger and Tiger Mask even joined in the fun with Stereo Planchas to the outside. Ricochet eventually put a stop to the fun with a 630 Senton on Volador Jr. for the win. All six men raised each other’s arms and posed for the crowd afterwards as a sign of respect. ***¾
After the match reDRagon comes out to lay down a challenge to Ricochet and Sydal for the Jr. Heavyweight tag titles – titles that Bobby Fish claims reDRagon never lost due to never being pinned in the title change. Kyle O’Reilly then grabbed the mic and challenged them in Japanese, which when gaijins cut promos in Japanese it will always receive a massive pop from the crowd.. Roppongi Vice then interrupt the confrontation to throw their names in the hat as well. Beretta pulls out his NJPW contract and say it states that they get a rematch for the titles. The ever fighting champion, Ricochet, declares that they will put their titles on the line in a triple threat tag match in Osaka. RPG Vice then attacks Ricochet and Sydal. reDRagon, who were satisfied and returning to the dressing room, rush back to the ring for the brawl. Ricochet and Sydal ended the angle with Stereo Moonsaults off the top to the outside to take out all four of their future opponents. This was a hot angle that set up the typical multi-tag jr. heavyweight match on an appropriate show that showcases junior heavyweights.
Satoshi Kojima & Michael Elgin vs. Kenny Omega & Bad Luck Fale
Omega came to the ring with double sided mop/broom akin to a Darth Maul lightsaber. Chase Owens accompanied Fale and Omega with the ladder in tow. Omega was of course wearing his non-main eventing silly pants, meaning he was going show his goofier in this match.
Hiroshi Tanahashi bowed out of the upcoming Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship against Omega, so Tanahashi’s Unbreakable Aces tag partner, Elgin wanted to take his place. Omega said that Elgin hasn’t done anything to deserve another title shot and turned Omega down. So, in this match they of course, incorporated some ladder spots including a Superplex from Elgin to Omega. Omega teased a One Winged Angel on the ladder and Elgin countered into a powerbomb through the ladder breaking it which received a huge pop from the crowd. Elgin then followed this up with an Elgin Bomb for the win.
The crowd ate up all of the ladder spots in this match which goes to show that they will absolutely eat up a ladder match when it happens. ***¾
After match Elgin took Omega’s Intercontinental championship and laid in the ring challenging Omega to come get it. Omega then got on the microphone and finally accepted Elgin’s challenge to take Tanahashi’s spot on the ladder match at Dominion.
It is quite disappointing that we won’t get to see the NJPW legend Tanahashi in the interesting dynamic of wrestling in a Ladder Match. Instead, we are seeing two Canadian wrestlers wrestle in a match that was invented in their home country during the Stampede Wrestling days. With that said, Omega vs. Elgin in a Ladder Match will no doubt deliver, and Tanahashi’s body is hanging on by threads. If we have any desire to see Tanahashi put together another historic run through the G1 then we have to sacrifice seeing his put his body through such a dangerous match.
Kazuchika Okada & Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI & Gedo vs. Tetsuya Naito & SANADA & EVIL & BUSHI
CHAOS and Los Ingobernables de Japon have been feuding for the better part of 2016 and it’s been a lot of fun to watch. I will take any combination of multi-man matches these two factions can come up with as they are all incredible. This is easily my feud of the year for 2016. Sure, Ospreay vs. Scurll and Dragon Lee vs. Kamaitachi have been good this year, but there isn’t another feud with the tension, talent, and interest than CHAOS vs. LIdJ. Every man in these factions is talented and this feud is properly shining the light on every member. It has been a perfect example of what a faction warfare styled feud should be. It has been centered around the top prize in the promotion with Okada and Naito feuding over the IWGP title while the other surrounding members have all elevated their own statuses within the company. There isn’t a member of either faction that I don’t want to see in the G1 Climax and I could never say that about the previous top faction, Bullet Club.
These multi-man matches from these factions have the feeling of a great Dragon Gate match with fluid fast paced action, smart/creative spots, and a hot passionate crowd behind it all. This was another great match between these two factions and none of which should be passed off as the usual thrown together multi-man tag match NJPW is known to present on the undercard. ****¼
After the match LIdJ was beating down CHAOS with SANADA locking the Skull End on Gedo. Ishii came down to assist his CHAOS brothers until BUSHI spit the poison mist in Ishii’s face. Okada then sacrificed BUSHI with a Tombstone to send a message to Naito. Naito was on the outside of the ring looking in at Okada to was starting at the leader of LIdJ. Okada pointed his finger Naito who was ignoring the situation until Okada went for the Rainmaker on BUSHI and Naito charged the ring and told Okada to “Tranquilo.” The top two stars of NJPW then stared each other down until Naito spit blood on Okada from his busted open lip and left the ring.
BOSJ Final Match
[B Block] Will Ospreay def. [A Block] Ryusuke Taguchi
Taguchi walked into this match accompanied by Liger and Tiger Mask and had the support of his trainer, Milano Collection A.T. who was adorning the signature Taguchi sunglasses in his suit jacket pocket. Taguchi was in front of his hometown crowd which legitimately drowned out the commentary team at the opening bell. Corino stated that, as of late, Taguchi was looked at as a comedy wrestler and the Marty Jannetty of Apollo 55 (Taguchi’s tag team with Prince Devitt, n.k.a. Finn Balor) This set up an interesting dynamic of the seasoned veteran, Taguchi, playing the underdog to the hot shot 23 year old Ospreay.
Ospreay won over this audience as the match wore on with an audible page out of the movie Rocky IV’s playbook as they began to side with the foreigner over the hometown hero. Ospreay continued to show that he, kayfabe, has progressed and learned from each of his failures in 2016, by busting out moves like the Octopus Hold that Zack Sabre Jr. mocked Ospreay with in Dallas as WrestleMania weekend. Ospreay is also, shoot, showing that he is progressing by continuing to up his game in the selling department, especially in this match with the injured ankle that Taguchi was relentlessly attacking to set Ospreay up for the Ankle Lock. Throughout this year’s BOSJ Ospreay has solidified his striking game to mesh better with the NJPW style and it is winning the approval of this audience as the ooed and ahed with each strike Ospreay threw or received during the tournament and in this match. Taguchi started the first portion of the match as the cocky veteran toying with the young boy, which Ospreay looked visibly insulted by until showing the gumption to return the favor by mocking Taguchi’s own taunts.
This match had so much passion and fire to it and felt like a real fight between two men desperately trying to prove they are the best super junior in the company and worthy of a IWGP Jr. heavyweight championship match with KUSHIDA.
Taguchi was masterfully working over Ospreay’s ankle that caused Ospreay to collapse under his own weight on multiple occasions. This lead to a great moment where Taguchi nodded assuringly at Liger and Tiger Mask’s coaching on the outside as Taguchi told them he’s got this match under control.
The only moment this match was missing was Ospreay finally hitting the Rainmaker into the Spanish Fly, a move that he has only hit one time before (in wXw vs. Shane Strickland) and hasn’t hit in NJPW. This career defining spot could be saved for the inevitable rematch vs. KUSHIDA, though.
After screaming in agony whilst being trapped in multiple Ankle Locks, Ospreay managed to finally put Taguchi away with an Imploding 450 Splash and Springboard Ace Crusher. ****¾
After the match Liger showed his respect to Ospreay by tending to him and helping Ospreay loosen the pressure on his boot straps to relieve his now injured ankle. Ospreay sold this moment with the proper amount of emotion as he proved how grateful he is for the opportunity to wrestle in NJPW. Ospreay dropped to his knees and pointed to the sky, which was no doubt Ospreay paying homage to his good friend Kris Travis who passed away just a couple of months ago.
Ospreay took the microphone for his victory promo and wasn’t able to speak at first as he was being rained on with “OSPREAY! OSPREAY!” chants.
“KUSHIDA. Me and you need to have a little talk, sunshine. I welcome you into the ring. C’mon I want to say something, KUSHIDA. You think that we’re finished? You think wrong. No, no, no. I have all the respect for KUSHIDA. One of the best wrestlers in the world. But Okada brought me into CHAOS for one reason and that is to take the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship away from you. I’ll make this easy for you to understand. Ospreay. KUSHIDA. IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship. One more time.”
Ospreay then held up his newly won BOSJ trophy as KUSHIDA raised the IWGP Jr. title. KUSHIDA then replied.
“Congratulations, Will Ospreay. You are champion. I am champinon. I accept your challenge.”
Ospreay then finished by thanking his friends and family as he left the ring with confetti raining down on him. Ospreay had fans rush to the barricade to meet him proving that he is a made man in Japan. Ospreay got on the English headset and thanked Kelly and Corino for doing commentary stating that it was an honor. Corino replied to Ospreay saying that Kris Travis is surely proud of Ospreay to which Ospreay replied “Thank you.” with his voice cracking under the emotion just proving that Ospreay is the everyman that you have no other choice, but to cheer for the man we all want to go to battle with and cheer for in glory and defeat.
New Japan continues to put together top-to-bottom stellar cards, a feat that they have achieved all year long. This card in particular had a must see main event and another red hot LIdJ/CHAOS tag match. The majority of the card was building towards what will be another memorable Dominion show on Father’s Day, June 19th.